Potters from the Lubelszczyzna region created characteristic grey pottery (called siwiaki) and biscuit ware in different shades of red and brown. The pottery was often glazed in brown, red, green, ochre, white and cream coating – the glaze strengthened the items and made them more aesthetic and decorative.
Many traditional pottery decoration techniques have survived until today. These are carving, impressing, adding reliefs and polishing. Paining was a newer technique which was probably introduced in the 18th century and became widespread only at the end of the 19th century. Traditional pottery carving techniques have been preserved and are still practiced in towns and cities such as Bidaczów Stary and Bidaczów Nowy (Biłgoraj District), Urzędów (Kraśnik District), Łuków, Glinne (Łuków District), Firlej (Lubartów District) and Baranów (Puławy District). Patterns such as straight and broken lines, zigzags, waves, also drawings, inscriptions and outlines of painted motifs were incised in clay with a sharp tool. The technique of carving the outlines of paintings was used by potters from Pawłów in the Chełm District and was inspired by Hucul pottery. Impressing techniques were popular in the same areas – except for Baranów. Artisans usually stamped simple patterns like dots or serration in raw pottery using a special tool or a finger. Sometimes blacksmith stamps were used (Urzędów). Relief ornaments such as bumps, rolls, volutes and flowers were popular in three pottery centres: in Bidaczów, Urzędów and Łążek (Janów Lubelski District).
The technique of polishing was used on grey pottery in the Biłgoraj centre (Bidaczów, Kolonia Sól), near Łuków (Glinne), Lubarwów (Firlej) and in Biała Podlaska, Parczew, Międzyrzec Podlaski and Włodawa. Dry ware typically had a course and matte surface, but it became silvery and shiny after being polished with a flint stone and fired.
Some of the patterns that were carved, impressed or added as reliefs on pottery were also painted. Potters from Pawłów, Baranowice, Firlej, Łuków and Biała Podlaska painted straight and broken lines, waves, spirals and dots. Chains and checks were painted in Wola Dereźniańska (Biłgoraj District), Baranów and Pawłów; stars and circles in Pawłów. The patterns were usually arranged in radial compositions. Flowers were the most popular among floral motifs. Pottery produced in Glinno, Pawłów, Baranów, Łążek, Kaznów (Lubartów District) and Łuków was typically decorated with flower motifs. Fern was a less common decoration which could be seen on pottery from Łążek and Pawłów; so was the palmette, used in Łążek, Pawłów and Baranów. Potters also used floral, geometricized motifs such as: trees (Łążek, Pawłów, Baranów, Biała Podlaska), swirling stems and star-shaped flowers (Pawłów). Zoomorphic ornaments were represented by birds sitting on twigs or among flowers. They were painted in Łążek, Baranów and Pawłów – on the bottoms of bowls and sometimes also on jugs.
Some pottery centres used characteristic ornament compositions. Potters in the Łążek area presented a very distinct style of decorations. Pottery was painted with a brush or a cone. Most commonly used patterns were: straight and wavy stripes, ladders, dots, garlands, swirling rosettes, multi-petal flowers, stars, spirals, fir branches, crow’s feet, hearts, palmettes, trees and zoomorphic motifs – especially roosters. The birds were usually painted with broad strokes, had small heads, stocky, long necks, rounded bodies and wide, fan-like tails. Roosters had short and bended legs and feet painted with a couple of dots or lines – to imitate the claws. Their wings were usually depicted as a single patch of colour. It was difficult to find two identical birds painted of plates, bowls, vases, jugs and pots.
Pottery from Baranów (light brown background with cream-coloured slit ornaments) was also decorated with many motifs. The most popular patterns were: herringbone, circles, waves, dots, leaves, dot flowers and birds – roosters (usually placed on the bottoms of bowls). Geometric motifs were less varied – line patterns were created by combining straight and wavy lines with dots, arches, checks and spirals. Pottery from Firlej could be distinguished by the patterns composed of big dots or serration placed right below the edges of the items. In Glinne, potters used characteristic bands and sun motifs to decorate pots, jugs and flower pots; and flowers to decorate bowls.
Gray pottery from Biała Podlaska and Pawłów was also adorned with interesting ornaments. The most common decoration in the Biała Podlaska region was a straight or wavy band with circles or a herringbone pattern above it. Potters also used polished stripes, straight, wavy, broken or dotted lines, stretched spirals, volutes, dots, checks, triangles, meanders, palmettes, trees. Grey pottery from Pawłów was characterized by even richer ornaments. Most popular patterns were wavy chains, straight, wavy and zigzag bands and fern motifs. At first, painted and glazed pottery ware was decorated with simple, geometricized motifs (lines, dots, flowers, herringbone). Later, it was decorated with stylized plants and flowers.
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Fryś-Pietraszkowa E., Garncarstwo ludowe Lubelszczyzny [Folk pottery of the Lubelszczyzna region], „Polska Sztuka Ludowa” 1957, no. 1, p. 37-41.
Fryś-Pietraszkowa E., Ośrodek garncarski w Łążku Ordynackim na tle ceramiki malowanej w Polsce [The Łążek Ordynacki pottery centre and painted pottery in Poland], Wrocław 1973.
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Reinfuss R., Garncarstwo ludowe [Traditional pottery], Warszawa 1955.
Wojtan A., Garncarze z Urzędowa [Potters from Urzędów], „Twórczość Ludowa” 1997, no. 1, p. 23-24.